You have moved but now you have an empty room you have no idea what to do with. Often, if you are moving out for the first time it never really occurs to you that furnishing that house will be more expensive. It will set you back a few months’ worth of rent. Furniture is not cheap. Neither is bed linens and kitchen utensils. However, Nairobi is a lovely city that is constantly handing its residents gifts of affordable options for everything. You do not have to go to the high-end shops for beautiful furniture. Almost a million shillings for a piece of furniture is obviously ridiculous. Below are a few options you can go for instead of letting yourself be ripped off.
This place has some of the most beautiful furniture in this town. You will get it for a fraction of the fancy shop prices too. Imagine this, you could get a picture of one of those expensive pieces of furniture, take it to those fundis and have them make you something similar. Something they do not tell you is that a good percentage of the furniture sold in those fancy shops is built by these same fundis. You need to be careful about dealing with these carpenters though. They can take forever to finish making your piece even after paying your deposit. You have to keep a fire burning under their butts so they do not keep you on the back burner. You should also do some research on the range you should go with before committing.
If you have space in the building, you could always buy the materials yourself. You can get the fabrics and cushion fillers from the Gikomba market. You will then find a fundi and have them bring wood and tools. This might turn out to be cheaper. It will leave your compound very dirty and cluttered for a while, though. It is also a good idea because there will be no delays as you would expect from above. This will allow you to decide just how filled the cushions of your couches should be. You will also have the chance to decide what to do with the leftover materials. You could have extra cushions made or footrests depending on how much material will be leftover. There is a lot to gain from using this option. Beds are an easier element to handle unless you feel like you should install drawers at the bottom for storage.
There are many places in Nairobi where you can get second-hand furniture among other house furnishings. These are usually places where people sell their household items for quick cash or just to get rid of. These will obviously be cheaper because they are second hand. There will also be a good chance of finding some very little used things. Imagine finding a bed worth 70,000 shillings that has only been used for a year for a mere 30,000 shillings. This would be a steal. You should, however, be very careful about the second-hand stuff. Some of it may be stolen. The electronics are especially tricky, they could get you in trouble.
Check the newspaper, at the back you will find advertisements by auctioneers. They will list everything that is up for auction. Forget the second-hand places where their intention is to make a profit. An auction is a place where you can buy a fridge worth almost 50,000 shillings for as low as 15,000 shillings. These auctions will be very useful for major electronics and furniture. Be careful not to buy bedbug-infested furniture though. You should find someone who has been to one of these though so you know how it goes. If you find a friend who works at one of those companies, they can help you get in through the back door. Nairobi is all about who you know after all.
Have you heard of Black Friday? You do not have to sweat it out with other people waiting for the stores to open. Simply sit at home with your computer and wait for the site to open the black Friday sales. Have a good internet connection and a comfortable seat. You will get yourself some of the best quality electronics for a very small fraction of the price. The kicker, it is all new. This might not apply for furniture but the electronics will be good enough, right?
Wear your oldest pair of jeans and comfortable shoes. You will find very new and very affordable towels and linens in Kamukunji. Do you need utensils? You will find yourself buying too many because in Kamukunji they will give you everything at wholesale prices. You can buy a bunch of five spoons for 300 shillings in a supermarket. For that same amount, you can have at least twenty good quality spoons. On a good day, the spoons may come with forks too. You should also skip out on buying duvets in a boutique in town. Get one in Kamukunji, it will be at least 800 shillings less. This is if you do not walk deep enough into the market.
One of the best things to get from this place is carpets. There is a mall there where the entire basement is carpets sold at the cheapest prices in Nairobi. They are good quality carpets too. You will also get a wide range of choices too. There are some nice shops for curtains too.
Pieces from this market will put a touch of beauty in your house. You can source your décor items from here. Instead of attending the market days at the various malls where the prices may be a little too high. How about going to City Market and scour the curio shops in there? Or attend the K1 Flea Market, the prices here are lower than the aforementioned. The Maasai market days are meant for tourists.
You should have a color scheme to go by. Who says a rental should not reflect your personal style? Go to Nairobi Textile and pick a fabric. Pick a color of your choice. Pick a fabric pattern that you like. Have one of the many tailors cut the fabric and fashion it into curtains for all your windows. Get the caretaker to measure the windows for you. The landlord may not have to approve your request to change the paint color for the house to feel beautiful.
Imagine buying a couch only for you to have trouble getting it through the door. You should, therefore, be mindful of the size of the furniture you buy. Do not buy furniture that will be impossible to get into the house. Do not buy furniture that just fills the room thus making it feel crowded.
You must make maximum use of the space. If you have a small house, find creative ways to store things in the furniture. You could make the footrest a storage container for your child’s toys. Your coffee table could also double as a bookshelf. You could have the fundi install storage space within the couch for your extra clothes so you do not need another wardrobe or chest of drawers. Have the carpenters help you find creative ways to store things in the house.
Unless you have been saving up for this, you may want to be gradual with the furnishing. If you do it all at once you may end up buying some things that are not exactly your taste. Or some that you will regret later. You should, therefore, take time to window shop and develop some idea of what your house should look like.
The carpenter will probably give you a choice between wood types. Choose the best possible quality. Chances are that it will be more expensive but then it will last longer. Good wood is an investment, not the kind that gives returns over time but the kind that keeps you from buying new furniture due to degradation after only a few years.
Do not buy too many things. It is easy to buy too much especially if the prices are way lower than you expected. You buy too much, you end up cluttering up the house. Clutter means that not only will it be easier for pests to hide in your house you will also feel like you are locked in a tiny carton when you are home.
Rent in Nairobi is high enough, furnishing your house does not have to be. The rental is another person’s property and you will not have the authority to do whatever you want with the interior. The way you furnish it though can make up for that. Happy shopping!